Today I am Wiped. Out. Sunday, after hosting 25 friends and family in our home, I was tired. But today, after what I experienced… I am wiped. Today I became a grandma. Yes, that’s right. Today I spent the afternoon at the American Girl store in Manhattan and became the proud grandmother to Hannah’s new daughter Holly. Mind you, Holly isn’t coming home as an infant. No, she’s a long haired, chicly dressed little girl. (Wouldn’t we all love to skip right over the colic, sleepless nights and feeding around the clock?). But she is Hannah’s new daughter. Most likely, her new obsession.
Let me back up a bit. My sister-in-law had planned a girls’ day out for me, Hannah, herself, her daughter and my mother-in-law. A little girl’s dream day. Tea at the American Girl store. I didn’t think much about it when it was planned. Hannah had NEVER mentioned American Girl. It wasn’t even on her radar. I had only known American Girl as the historical dolls with detailed stories to go along with them (and the catalogs that seem to arrive monthly in my mailbox and are thrown directly in the trash). I was pretty sure I’d be able to attend the tea and skip right over the buying-the $100-doll part. The more I spoke to people, however, the more I realized I was dreaming.
Our adventure started this afternoon as Hannah and I boarded Metronorth. Actually, it started on the train platform where Hannah insisted on telling fellow train-goers that they should step away from the edge of the platform for fear they would get run into by the train. We finally got onto the train and sat in a seat. Me on the seat, her in my lap. And then the commentary began. I never realized how much there is to observe on the train… until I was with my 4 year old. Here are a few out takes:
– “Everyone on this train mommy, must be looking forward to whatever it is they want to do in NYC. Doesn’t everyone look excited?”
– “Look, the cars are driving next to the train! But we’re going faster because we don’t have red lights, or traffic, or bikers, or animals to watch out for”
– “People sleep on the train mommy. Look that lady is asleep. She must still take naps.”
– “The conductor must be so busy since he has to collect all of the tickets AND drive the train.”
– “There aren’t seat belts. We could topple off the seats. Police must not ride the trains because they would want to wear a seat belt.”
She was most excited to hand our ticket to the conductor. Usually I’m hopeful that he’ll skip over me (a free ride!) but today, it was part of the event. And he skipped over us. And she started crying. And instead of putting my hand over her mouth to silence her, I fessed up and paid.
We finally arrived at Grand Central. I did all but staple her hand to mine as we meandered through the crowded station and out onto the even busier streets. And between not stepping on cracks, avoiding focused, fast paced oncoming pedestrian traffic, looking in awe at all of the amazingly tall buildings, and commenting and tsk tsking at each and every smoker she walked passed, we finally made it to our destination.
American. Girl. Place.
We walked through the enormous glass doors and all hope of NOT buying a doll flew right back out those doors. Holy Crap. The place is un-be-lieve-able. Hannah greeted her aunt, cousin and grandma and began her journey through what I’ll just refer to as Little Girl Heaven (later to become Mommy Hell I’m sure). Thank god we don’t live in NYC anymore because I think I’d have to enroll her in AGA (American Girl Anonymous) if we lived any closer than we do now.
After 20 minutes of oogling over the choices, we finally chose the doll that most resembled Hannah (because you know, all children look IDENTICAL to their parents). I wonder if other girls would stare quizzically at another girl with an “unmatched” AG doll the way people look at me when I say Luke is my son with his blonde hair and all. It was actually quite freaky to see all of the girls in the store with their clones in their arms. Same hair style, same skin, same outfit… weird. We then made our way to the clothing section to choose a matching pair of pajamas for Hannah and Holly. I’ve drawn the line at matching pajamas. Never will I allow her to match OUTSIDE the house. I don’t wear matching clothing with Hannah and she will not with the doll. Who says I don’t set limits?
We then headed up to the tea. We were escorted to our table where the American Girl hoop-la continued… dolls were given booster seats of their own, along with their own tea cup and saucer. (And wouldn’t you know, you can actually BUY the booster seats and tea cups!) We were also given “conversation cards” in case we had nothing to say to each other and our dolls at the table. Questions ranged from, “What do you do to keep busy on a rainy day?” to “Have you ever been told you couldn’t do something because you’re female?” (the latter got some blank stares from the 4 year old cousins and their dolls).
To see this large fancy party room filled with dozens of little girls ranging from 4-12ish was a spectacle to say the least. At one point Holly who was sitting quietly in her booster seat toppled over and onto the floor. The 4 (slightly older and apparently more experienced) girls at the next table snapped their heads around to see the new doll on the floor and (I swear they) shook their heads with disapproval at new mommy Hannah as they turned back to wipe the mouths of their dolls by their side. Nothing like judgey moms at 5 years old.
Talk about marketing genius. This place. This three story place with a doll hair salon, doll hospital, doll pet store, doll tea restaurant is what little girls LIVE for. Just as many women are proud and envied as they walk down the streets with a Tiffany blue bag or a Chanel black shopping bag, these girls leave the store toting their new Red American Girl shopping bag and every other girl on the street turns and looks. And tugs on their mom’s sleeve and points with “want”. And when you walk into that store, you are surrounded by “wanting more” and impossible choices. In the span of 3 minutes I heard at least 5 moms say, “choose ONE.” It brought me back to my Cabbage Patch doll days. I always wanted another doll. Another outfit. We brought them everywhere, compared clothes with other Cabbage Patch dolls we saw on the street. My doll brought me acceptance in my (little girl) circles.
Who knows how infatuated Hannah will become with this doll. I do know she just arrived home from a big dinner in the city (that I missed to get home for Luke) and as I carried her up the stairs half asleep in her new pajamas she was able to wake up enough to give me strict instructions to put Holly in her new pajamas and make sure she was tucked into her bed immediately. And as I tugged Holly’s clothes off (underwear and all) and pulled her new pajamas on… I realized I could get into this (at 37). I would have been sucked in (at 4). My mom would have been in trouble. I’m in trouble as a mom (and grandma).
P.S… we had an amazing time. Pure Joy was all I saw on Hannah’s face. And I made sure to live in the moment with her. And to cherish it. So thank you R for setting it up. And B for footing the (large) bill. And Hannah, for being a girl so that I had the excuse to see what all the fuss is about…. and indulging in some damn delicious banana bread. Pictures to come…